How was your first race with Renault Sport Formula One Team ?
Having been out of F1 for a year, it was very nice to be back. It was a tough race, but I was really happy as the pace was very good. It was annoying to get that puncture at the start, which compromised our race. I didn’t have any contact as far as I could tell, but I saw the pressures coming down and knew that something was wrong. In some respects we were lucky to get the red flag, but it was even better that Fernando was unhurt as that was a big crash. We could get back to the pits and on to the grid and then I had the race from there. We had a good pace - on par with Williams and maybe even faster. We didn’t think we would have the pace of the top ten, but in the end we did. I’m gutted as we could possibly have been in the points if I had not had that puncture, but that’s life. For a first race, it looks very encouraging for the rest of the season.
What did you think of the R.S.16 ?
The feeling in the car was good and I was able to fight and overtake and put the car where I wanted to. It’s clearly very driveable. It is not fast enough to be on the podium or even in Q3 but it’s a good car that handles well and it’s something we will continue to work on. We don’t need to change the philosophy in any way, just keep developing and it will come to us.
What did you make of your new team in race trim ?
It is very clear that this team is a top team in F1. Maybe not in terms of pace : we know where we are and we are not happy with this, but when we get the car faster we will be there. We have a good baseline and something we can really work on. I didn’t have a good race but I am very happy as it looks good for the rest of the season.
The next race is Bahrain, is it a favourite race for you ?
It’s not the most exciting track, to be honest ! The heat is a major challenge and it is tough on the rear tyres so having a car that looks after them will be an advantage. There are also four long straights so it is a power orientated track. I will enjoy getting out there and if you ask me if the race could be tomorrow I’d be there, no questions asked !